Meet the Matthews

IT TAKES BRAINS is the outreach program of Autism BrainNet, a new network of research institutions that will collaborate on groundbreaking brain research. Brain study is the key to solving autism, and our

mission is to urge families to make the heroic decision to

register for brain tissue donation.

Read More +

The It Takes Brains outreach program brings together a group of leading autism science research organizations: the Simons Foundation, the Autism Science Foundation, and the MIND Institute of the University of California at Davis.


Responding to the severe shortage of brain tissue that is holding back autism research, we have joined to make the public, and especially individuals and families affected by autism, aware of the critical need for donated brain tissue. The study of the postmortem brain tissue of both those who had autism and of those who were unaffected will have an enormous impact on the understanding and treatment of autism. We want to urge people with autism, families affected by autism, and unaffected people to register to donate brain tissue to autism research. Because brain tissue is so difficult to procure without advance planning, we are reaching out in order improve the future for countless individuals and families affected by autism.


In order to ensure the highest quality brain research and to streamline the donation process, the Simons Foundation and Autism Speaks have established Autism BrainNet, a new network of research institutions that will enable the highest quality and most rigorous research into the causes of autism spectrum and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Studies undertaken with brain tissue acquired through Autism BrainNet will generate data that will improve our understanding of autism and lead to the development of autism treatments. The mission of Autism BrainNet, along with the It Takes Brains outreach initiative, is to create a partnership between the scientific community and individuals and families affected by autism to develop a sensitive, transparent, and effective strategy for acquiring and distributing the highest quality tissue for research worldwide.


Autism BrainNet is currently comprised of:

  • The MIND Institute of the University of California at Davis, Sacramento
  • The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas
  • Harvard University/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston

Autism BrainNet plans to add sites across the U.S. and internationally for brain research, making the donation process as simple and compassionate as possible for donor families.


To solve autism, it will take the best brains in the scientific community, as well as the heroic actions of Superheroes- both people who have autism and those who are unaffected- who make the courageous, wise, and generous decision to donate brain tissue to this crucial mission. Our vision for what Autism BrainNet can be is far more than a central management and collection site for brain tissue, but also a worldwide collaboration of research facilities whose unique resources and brilliant minds work together to advance autism research.

Topics include:



Studies focusing on differences

in brain structure, development,

and genetic function will transform

the understanding and treatment

of autism.